Rob McKenna and Healthcare

Earlier this week Attorney General Rob McKenna joined a lawsuit filed by a number of other AGs nationally to attack the new healthcare bill adopted in the other Washington. Here’s his press release on the suit: http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=25402

He’s using 10th amendment grounds to do so, and my personal read is that the suit is unlikely to succeed and part of the increasingly dysfunctional way we discuss serious political issues an America.

Many people have suggested that the legislature cut off funding to his office as a result, or that we somehow forbid spending on this particular lawsuit. I don’t support this because I believe it’s important to have an independent AG in Washington, even when he’s wrong. He’s wrong in this case.

I’m not going to debate federal healthcare policy here. This is a vote that happens at the federal level, not at the state level where I represent you. It’s a debate worth having, and we’ve had that for the last year in the newspapers, on the blogs, on TV, and in coffeeshops and laundromats across the country. There isn’t too much disagreement that everyone should be able to have adequate healthcare; the question is about paying for it.

The 10th Amendment is important, but has been used as a platform to launch many seriously loony proposals, including a raft of bills this year that would have:

  • Prohibited federal law enforcement officers from making arrests in Washington unless they had a signed permission slip from the County Sheriff.
  • Required the state to hold all money that we collect on behalf of the federal government (gas taxes, etc.) and use it to fund “unfunded mandates” from the federal government before we send it to them. The bill would also have required private citizens to pay their federal excise taxes into the fund, to be forwarded to the feds if the legislature thought it appropriate.
  • Allowed people to purchase and carry machine guns as long as they were “made in Washington.”

Most legal scholars think McKenna unlikely to prevail. I agree. The voters of Washington elected the guy, and it’s his job to allocate the budget we send him. If he does it in ways the voters don’t support they’ll hire a new AG in 2012. I don’t like his lawsuit, but I don’t intend to interfere in how he spends his budget.

About the Author

Ross
I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.